A Skill or Art – Listening?

listenMy last post on microinequities helped me with the next topic – Listening. Let’s face it, listening should be something that everyone can do, but I say few do it well. Ever wonder why we were given two ears, because listening is twice as hard to master.

Let’s breakdown listening by describing the different types and what they mean.

  • Competitive Listening – this is when we are more interested in promoting our own point, rather than understanding or exploring what the person is saying. We looking like we are paying close attention, but we really are looking for any opportunity to jump right in.
  • Attentive Listening – where we are genuinely interested in hearing what is being said.
  • Active Listening – probably the single most important of the listening skills. Like attentive but active in the nature that we restate or replay the message that we heard. Provides a feedback process that makes active listening effective.

What are some of the things that you need to pay attention to when practicing active listening.

  • Paraphrase your understanding of the message that was heard. Nothing more annoying than having someone parrot your message back to you.
  • Look to account for facts, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and emotions – it really helps your to be able to understand completely what the message is and how important it maybe.
  • Replay some of that emotion back in your response. If the are upset by something – let them know that you know they are upset.
  • Don’t give in to the answer the question right away. Listen to the end of the message, give it some thought and then respond. When the answer is either right after the message or you have cut them off to answer – did you really listen to the message completely?
  • Active listening is good, but there are times to turn it off. You have to speak your mind – using active listening to hide your position is not good either.
  • If you are confused after the message – go ahead and say so.
  • Don’t be judgmental. You can be respectful of their beliefs and feelings, but never pass judgment.

For me, I know what I should be doing and how to do it, but I have at times have not followed what I have written. I was reflecting on yesterday and some of the discussions that I had – and thought was I a good listening? So, to help me – I decided to put my thoughts to blog.

Anyone have any good tips? Any reminders before they wonder into a discussion? Share!